Mr. and Mrs. William Warren’s Denis of Cork, who was third in the 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and second in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), has been retired, trainer David Carroll said Jan. 22.
A son of Harlan's Holiday—Unbridled Girl, by Unbridled, Denis of Cork had not raced since the Belmont after suffering a hairline fracture in his right front leg. But after extensive rest and therapy, the bay horse returned to training for Carroll last September and was planning for a return to racing at the current Fair Grounds meet. He breezed well under Robby Albarado Jan. 4 but Carroll suspected something wasn’t right when he came back the barn.
“He worked beautifully; Robby was said he went very well,” Carroll said. “But I wasn’t happy with the way he cooled out and when we checked him out we noticed he had a soft tissue injury on the same leg that gave him problems before. It’s very disappointing. I feel terrible for Mr. and Mrs. Warren; they are wonderful people.
“We were all looking forward to his return. We really took our time with him. He went to the spa every day and we did every kind of alternative therapy we could with him. He had plenty of bottom and foundation under him. We were excited, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Denis of Cork, who was bred in Florida by Westbury Stables, won the first three starts of his career, including the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park. After a fifth-place finish in the Illinois Derby (gr. II), he rebounded with a solid third-place effort in the Kentucky Derby under Calvin Borel, and was runner-up by 5 1/4 lengths to upset winner Da’ Tara in the Belmont with Albarado aboard. He finished with a record of 3-1-1 from six starts and earnings of $613,252.
Carroll, who currently has a stable of 22 horses at Fair Grounds, did not hesitate when asked if Denis of Cork was the most talented horse he has trained.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “He’s a horse who has tremendous talent. He took us to the biggest races—the ones you dream about—and we’re very proud of him.”
Carroll said plans have not yet been finalized for Denis of Cork’s stallion career.
“He’s in the process of being let down. Mr. Warren is working on the next stage. In today’s market, it might be tough to find a place for a horse who has been off for a year and half, and has been lightly raced. But he has terrific pedigree, he placed in top level races, and he looks fantastic.
“We’ll miss him. We’re a small stable and he kind of carried the flag for us. But the good news is that he doesn’t know anything is wrong with him and he will find a nice place to go.”